Common Core Course Requirements

All students entering the program fulfill a set of common core requirements and more specialized programs stipulated by their chosen Area of Emphasis.

  • Ecology 200A and 200B (Principles and Application of Ecological Theory). Usually taken the first year in residence, unless unmet entrance requirements prevent these courses from being taken in the first year. Prerequisite: Introduction to Ecology.
  • Ecology and Evolution Seminar Series: ECL 296. Required for all entering students each quarter of the first year of residence only, but recommended thereafter. This is a guest lecturer seminar series in the field of Ecology and is an attendance only requirement. There is no coursework required.
  • Ecology 290 seminars (1 for the M.S. degree; 3 for the Ph.D.). Ecology faculty volunteer, on a quarter-by-quarter basis, to lead an ECL 290 on a specific topic related to Ecology. Students enrolled will be required to make a presentation of at least 25 minutes in length to receive credit for this seminar.
  • A course in field ecology (may be satisfied prior to matriculation or during the course of the program.) Suggested Organizations for Field Courses.
  • One course in evolution (may be satisfied prior to admission). If not previously satisfied, EVE 100 must be taken.
  • For the Ph.D., an exit seminar prior to filing of dissertation. This requirement is optional for the M.S. by thesis option but is recommended.

AOE Course Requirements

Each Area of Emphasis may have a core course and other required coursework in addition to those listed above. Please refer to the AOE descriptions for details.

Other Courses

The courses in the "Ecology" series, listed below, are administered through the Environmental Science & Policy (ESP). Many students also take undergraduate level courses and courses in the many other departments affiliated with the GGE, as well as other courses in ESP.

ECL 200A: Principles and Application of Ecological Theory

Critical evaluation of ecological theory and applications to ecological management. Historical development of ecological theory is emphasized.  Critical evaluation of ecological principles pertaining to the structure and dynamic properties of ecological systems, their organization and evolution.

ECL 200B: Principles and Application of Ecological Theory

Continuation of course 200A. Critical evaluation of theory and application in the areas of ecological adaptation and system plasticity, spatial and temporal scales, ecological energetics, and system dynamics. Synthesis of ecological theory into testable principles.

ECL 201: Ecosystems and Landscape Ecology

Overview of ecosystem and landscape principles (structure, energy, nutrient flow, species diversity, landscape heterogeneity, change and stability), building on ecological principles and theory. Introduction to analysis tools (remote sensing, geographic information systems, modeling) applied to landscape systems.

ECL 203: Physiological Ecology

A comparative examination of several animal groups addressing fundamental physiological mechanisms that shape the ecology of each animal group.

ECL 204: Population and Community Ecology

Review of major concepts of population ecology and community ecology, with emphasis on the rationale of theory and use of theory as applied in the ecology of natural and managed systems.

ECL 205: Community Ecology

Introduction to literature and contemporary research into processes structuring ecological communities.

ECL 206: Concepts and Methods in Plant Community Ecology

Principles and techniques of vegetation analysis, including structure, composition, and dynamics. Emphasis given to sampling procedures, association analysis, ordination, processes and mechanisms of succession, and classification.  Most techniques are demonstrated or conducted during field trips and laboratories.

ECL 207: Plant Population Biology

Introduction to theoretical and empirical research in plant population biology. Emphasis placed on linking ecological and genetic approaches to plant population biology.

ECL 208: Issues in Conservation Biology

Graduate-level introduction to current research in conservation biology.  Course will emphasize reading and discussing primary literature. Specific topics will reflect the research interests of UCD conservation biology faculty.

ECL 210: Advanced Topics in Human Ecology

Course stresses the commonalities that human ecologists have as social scientists who specialize in problems relating human populations and environmental variables. General epistemological issues and theoretical models are reviewed. Similarities and differences of human and biological ecology are examined.

ECL 211: Advanced Topics in Cultural Ecology

Topics of current analytical and methodological importance in cultural ecology. Examination of general issues in cultural ecology through study of human response to and influences on climate.

ECL 212A: Environmental Policy Process

Introduction to selected topics in the policy process, applications to the field of environmental policy. Develops critical reading skills, understanding of frameworks of the policy process and political behavior, and an ability to apply multiple frameworks to the same phenomena.

ECL 212B: Environmental Policy Evaluation

Methods and practices of policy analysis; philosophical and intellectual bases of policy analysis and the political role of policy analysis.

ECL 213: Population, Environment, and Social Structure

Relationships among population dynamics, resource scarcity and environmental problems, and social structure; focus on demographic content of global ecological models and simulations, ecological content of modern demographic theories, and debates about scarcity, inequality, and social conflict and change.

ECL 214: Marine Ecology: Concepts and Practice

Critical review and analysis of concepts and practices in modern marine ecology at the interface of several fields of study including oceanography, evolution, behavior, and physiology.  Emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, and hands-on study. Three field trips required.

ECL 216: Ecology and Agriculture

Ecological principles and relationships as applied to agriculture. Integration of ecological approaches into agricultural research to develop environmentally sound management practices. Topics include crop autoecolgy, biotic interactions among crops and pests, and crop systems ecology.

ECL 217: Conservation and Sustainable Development in Third World Nations

Examination of the patterns of resource ownership, control and management in agricultural lands, extractive zones (fisheries, forests) and wildlands, with emphases on conservation and sustainability. Comparison of industrial democracies and poorer nations.

ECL 219: Ecosystem Biogeochemistry

Multi-disciplinary analysis of energy and nutrient transfers within terrestrial ecosystems. Examination of processes and inter- and intra-system interactions between the atmosphere, biosphere, lithosphere, and hydrosphere.  Laboratory section uses biogeochemical simulation models to examine case studies.

ECL 220: Spatio-Temporal Ecology

Spatio-temporal ecological theory focusing on population persistence and stability, predator-prey and host-parasitoid interactions, species coexistence and diversity maintenance, including effects of environmental variation, spatial and temporal scale, life-history traits and nonlinear dynamics. Topics vary.

ECL 222: Human Ecology of Agriculture

Social and cultural factors relating to agricultural adaptation and evolution. Ethnobiological knowledge systems, rules and customs of resource allocation, impact of population growth, technological change, states and markets. Social and cultural contexts of biological diversity and agricultural resource conservation.

ECL 225: Terrestrial Field Ecology

A field course conducted over spring break and four weekends at Bodega Bay, emphasizing student projects. Ecological hypothesis testing, data gathering, analysis, and written and oral presentation of results will be stressed.

ECL 230: Analysis of a Selected Ecosystem

Topic varies

ECL 231: Mathematical Methods in Population Biology

Mathematical methods used in population biology. Linear and nonlinear difference equation and differential equation models are
studied, using stability analysis and qualitative methods.  Partial differential equation models are introduced.  Applications to population biology models are stressed.

ECL 232: Theoretical Ecology

Examination of major conceptual and methodological issues in theoretical ecology. Model formulation and development will be emphasized. Topics will vary from year to year.

ECL233: Computational Methods in Population Biology

Numerical methods for simulating population dynamics using the computational software package R. Emphasis placed on model formulation and development, theoretical concepts and philosophical principles to guide simulation efforts, model parameterization, and implementing simulations with R. 

ECL242: Applied Ecological Genetics

Genetics for Ecology, Health, and Conservation of Natural Populations.  Overview, topics, principles, techniques, and issues in applied ecological genetics.  Includes introduction to molecular tools for ecology, population genetics, conservation genetics, landscape genetics, phylogeography, and more.

ECL 280: Current Anthropology Journal Editorial Workshop

Reading and offering workshop critiques of manuscripts submitted for publication, and reading and discussion of other relevant work in anthropology and human ecology. Track and edit published comments and authors’ replies that accompany major features. Participation in the development of new sections for the electronic edition of the journal, including a “news and views” section and a debate section.

ECL 290: Seminar in Ecology

Topics in biological, human, physical, and chemical ecology. Students are expected to present an oral seminar on a particular aspect of the general topic under consideration.